Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections that will help your team from week to week while you
strive to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs, and
win the elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp.
While I’m just as big a proponent of making trades to bolster
your roster, the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource
when it comes to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each
week, I’ll target both offensive and defensive players that
may be available in shallow leagues – sometimes just breakout
stars that eluded your team’s draft – as well as players
who can help your squad that will still be available in many deeper
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Off The Top
CLE – Is it possible someone released Anderson during the Browns
bye week to fill his open QB roster slot? Sure. Will Derek come
back refreshed and ready to thrash the St. Louis Rams on their
home turf in the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday? Absolutely. Play
Anderson with confidence against a defense that’s been shredded
every week by opposing QBs except weeks 2 and 3 – when they faced
Alex Smith (SF) and Jeff Garcia – who basically just did whatever
they needed to win. This is probably going to be a shootout. More
on that below..
STL – If your league has an IR feature that allows you to reserve
an extra roster spot for injured players, Bulger’s not likely
available. But through the bye weeks, teams have been forced to
deal with roster size issues and injuries, so he might be out
there. He got sacked a billion times last week but was still without
Steven Jackson – who’s supposed to be back this week. Bulger is
an accurate passer and a smart player, he’s just been thrust into
a bad situation with the Rams this year – losing nearly every
starting offensive lineman to injury and even a couple of backups.
Tom Brady wouldn’t be leading a winning team or even an effective
offense if he were in St. Louis right now, but with S-Jack back,
Bulger should be much more successful. While I’d hold off on expecting
him to be a top-five QB anytime soon, he’ll certainly be a nice
bye week fill-in this week against the Browns – who surrender
the most fantasy points in all of football to opposing QBs.
Scouring The Barrel
HOU – The early word is that Matt Schaub will be ready for Week
8, but Sage is a capable backup that will be heading up a pretty
potent offense. You should keep your eye on him if you’re a Schaub
owner – he threw 4 TDs and 2 INTs on 22-for35 passing and 290
yards, plus ran for 20 yards on three carries. Rosenfels – an
Iowa-born Jew – once said his family had to make yarmulkes out
of corn husks. Now that’s a guy I want on my fantasy team. Regardless
of whether he ever posts another 4-TD game again.
Jason Campbell, WAS – He’s coming off a terrible
game versus Arizona and the Skins are on the road against the
Patriots in Week 8. Right now, Campbell is not a great option
– but the upcoming schedule isn’t that frightening
and I’m considering the Cards game an anomaly.
CHI – Griese has a solid day without any TDs until he capped his
312-yard performance with a fitting finish – a TD to Muhsin Muhammad
with just 9 seconds left on the clock. Now he faces the Detroit
Lions – who have a secondary worse than some college teams. I
like him a lot this week, but who doesn’t?
Damon Huard, KC – The matchup didn’t look too ominous,
but the results were pitiful from a fantasy perspective –
16/31 passing for 177 yards, no TD and 1 INT.
Kellen Clemens, NYJ – While Pennington had three nice quarters,
it takes four to win in the NFL, and the late INT and subsequent
loss leaves a bad taste in Mangini’s mouth. Clemens might
soon get a shot.
Tim Rattay, ARI – At least he had a TD pass. How’s
this for a line? 1/1/,1 yard, 1 TD 0 INT. Nice.
Kyle Boller, BAL – The Ravens are terrible, on a bye and
McNair’s probably coming back. While some crowds think Boller’s
going to be playing well after the bye, I’m not among them.
Vinny Testaverde, CAR – He’s got an okay matchup
at home versus the Colts following the Week 7 bye, but the truth
is this: If you’re really looking forward to starting a
43-year-old QB, you’re either desperate, drunk, retarded
or a bizarre combination of the three.
Off The Top
MIA – Ronnie Brown’s knee is all messed up and a Monday report
listed him as lost for the season. I don’t think a lot of folks
know too much about Chatman, so I’ll give you a quick synopsis.
Undrafted out of college, Chatman signed with the Chargers in
April 2002 and led the NFL in rushing during the preseason with
234 yards on a 5.1 average. He made the team and played sparingly
over the next three seasons, but was released by the Chargers
in ‘05 and remained inactive (although he bounced around a bit
with the Dolphins and Saints) until being re-signed by the Dolphins
in February ’07. He’s a good change-of-pace back and while not
elusive, can be useful as an inside, North-South runner with his
good vision and ability to hit the hole effectively. In Cam Cameron’s
system, he can catch some passes out of the backfield and gain
chunks of yardage on the inside, but he’s not that fast, so he’ll
have a hard time consistently breaking off big runs like a Tomlinson
or Ronnie Brown. Sunday, he filled in well for Brown and could
be very effective as a goal line back even if the Dolphins split
the duties between Chatman and RBs Patrick Cobbs and Lorenzo Booker.
In any case, Chatman’s worth a top waiver selection this week
simply based on his potential to supplant Brown’s body in the
CLE – Probably not available in 75 percent of the leagues out
there, but he’s definitely out there in some. Given the productivity
of Cleveland’s offense, Lewis is a decent play versus the Rams
next week if the foot injury is a thing of the past. But he was
limited in practice Monday and Romeo Crennel said that might continue
into Wednesday. If he’s limited in practice the entire week, the
Browns would likely give some, or all, of the carries to Jason
Wright, who ran well in Lewis’s stead during weeks 5 and 6. But
the bottom line remains the indispensable fact that in weeks 12
through 16, the Browns face HOU, @ARI, @NYJ, BUF and @CIN – the
best matchups for any RB in the league down the home stretch.
Kenny Watson, CIN – Kenny will probably never run for 130
yards and three TDs in game ever again, but he’s Rudi’s
backup and Rudi’s been hurt. I wouldn’t recommend
plugging him in your lineup against the Steelers, but we know
now that he can get it done given the right opportunity and the
Young, DEN – Is he still available? He shouldn’t be, but if
he is, Travis Henry’s bruised ribs (among other things) add yet
another reason to put Young on your roster. I wouldn’t expect
him to be the next Terrell Davis or Clinton Portis, because Young
has never quite lived up to expectations, but he’s a versatile
back and can contribute to just about any fantasy lineup given
the right situation and matchup.
Earnest Graham, TB – For a second week in a row, most of
Graham’s fantasy points came via receptions in PPR leagues.
Last week I recommended playing him against the Lions, and this
week I think he’ll probably catch a few passes without reaching
the end zone.
Peterson, CHI – He’s yet to score or have more than 7 carries
or 38 yards (his Week 1 accomplishments) in a game this season,
but he’s averaging a healthy 4.46 YPC and he’s had 18 catches
for 152 yards. Cedric Benson, on the other hand, is averaging
just 3.06 YPC, has scored just twice and has only run for more
than 67 yards once this season (101 yards against the Chiefs in
Week 2). We all know that Lovie doesn’t like to shake things up,
but even Rex G rossman eventually outwore his welcome. This week,
the Bears play one of the worst run defenses in football and Peterson
might get an increased workload.
Scouring The Barrel
Priest Holmes, KC – While picking up Priest off the wires
last week was all the rage among speculative fantasy owners with
a penchant for perennial disappointment and pork belly futures
options, I wasn’t to be convinced until I saw him in the
red, white and gold. Now, he’s a necessary handcuff to Larry
Johnson as well as someone who may steal some carries and provide
the Chiefs with a nice change of pace. It’s possible, too,
that the return of Holmes pushes Johnson and spells him just enough
for him to be even more effective. In any event, LJ owners need
not view Holmes coming back as negatively as LJ has done in the
past. Just smile, be an adult about it, pick him up and play him
should anything happen to LJ.
Robinson, SF – If Frank Gore can’t go on Sunday, Robinson
could be a decent fill-in option against the Saints. With that
said, nobody expects Gore to miss a significant amount of time
and neither Robinson nor the 49ers offense has been too impressive.
PIT – Sure, there’s the domestic violence issues and the obvious
detriment that he’s playing second fiddle to Willie Parker, but
Davenport could still get a bunch of carries and some quality
goal line opportunities versus the terrible Bengals defense on
Sunday if the Steelers get out to a big lead. If you’re out a
big-name RB this week and you need an available RB to fill-in
capable of big numbers, Najeh could be the guy.
Williams, CAR – The Indy matchup is an exploitable one, especially
with the Panthers coming off a bye and the Colts coming off a
short week – but remember that DeShaun Foster’s still getting
the majority of carries.
Kevin Faulk, NE – Maroney came back and the Pats didn’t
do too much running. Forgot about him unless your league starts
Kevin Jones, DET – Detroit finally got to brandish an additional
offensive weapon last week in Jones, who finished with 76 yards
and a score to go along with 6/34/0 receiving, a great day for
a RB in PPR leagues and a decent afternoon in any format. Will
he rip apart the Bears on Sunday like Adrian Peterson did a couple
weeks back? No way – but he’ll have a bunch of catches
and could run one in.
White, TEN – Coming off a beautiful fantasy day in Houston,
White faces OAK, CAR, JAC, @DEN, @CIN – which should provide him
more opportunities to rack up some yardage and scores. Just watch
the injury status of Chris Brown – who takes away carries – and
Vince Young – who will abscond with some of LenDale’s scores.
Michael Bennett, TB – Earnest Graham had 13 catches and
almost 200 total yards Sunday, while Bennett had just 3 carries
– albeit for 22 yards and a nice YPC average. It definitely
looks like a RBBC in Tampa, making Bennett – for now –
nothing more than a #4 fantasy RB or desperation #3.
DET – Nary a freakin’ carry on Sunday. Looks like Marinelli’s
now married to Kevin Jones – and T.J. Duckett’s the new wifey.
What does that make Tatum? The ex.
Off The Top
Stokley, DEN – The eight-year veteran had his best game of
the season Sunday night with five catches for 70 yards and touchdown
and should step up with Javon Walker out until December. He’s
quick, athletic, fearless and he’s got the requisite experience
to catch 5-7 balls a game if needed. The downside to Stokley is
his propensity to get injured, but in Denver, he’ll be forced
to play through injuries that he could afford to nurse while he
was in Indy. Last year, he missed all but four games with hamstring
and Achilles issues, and he was even listed as questionable last
week. Denver signed Stokley to a one-year deal because they wanted
a reliable pass-catcher and he came to Denver because he’s got
something to prove to all the teams that didn’t want him – including
Indy. Brandon Marshall’s recent DUI arrest probably won’t affect
the Denver WR situation too much this season, but it can’t make
Shanahan happy. I’d expect Stokley to see a significant number
of targets from here on out.
Muhammad, CHI – Muhsin Muhammad loves him some Brian Griese.
And Brian Griese loves him some Muhsin Muhammad. The stirring
love fest played out on a last-second, fourth quarter stage on
Sunday, much to the dismay of Philly fans. This week, Chicago
plays Detroit, making Muhammad a great play as a #3 versus that
Hackett, SEA – I was quite high on Hackett during my drafts
this year, taking him in a 10-team, 3WR league to be my #3 behind
Plaxico Burress and Roy Williams, but injuries kept him off the
field so far. The Seahawks are on a bye, so he’ll get another
week of recovery and he should be in the lineup when Seattle heads
to Cleveland – a solid matchup.
WR Isaac Bruce, STL – If he’s healthy, I think he’s
a good play. Sure, the Reverend has lost a step, but he’s
an awesome possession receiver and the Browns are a defense that
give up a lot of first downs. With Bulger, Holt and S-Jack starting,
Bruce should be able to get open and even grab a score. Just follow
the injury report and if everybody’s on the field Sunday,
Bruce is a viable #3 or #4 WR
Davis, HOU – I simply can’t ignore Andre Davis anymore. While
I was unimpressed with his fantasy resume before 2007, he’s turned
the Andre Johnson injury into a bona fide career resurgence. As
long as Johnson remains out – which many still believe could be
until Week 11 or later – Davis is a solid play. The Texans have
been throwing the ball a ton, and until they change the formula,
Davis should be owned in all formats. And if Schaub doesn’t go,
Rosenfels is fully capable of getting the ball to the Texans WRs,
as he evidenced brilliantly on Sunday versus Tennessee.
Hester, CHI – You know the feeling. The games are ticking
away, your usually dependable lineup is stalling and the games
are shaping up so that your main guys aren’t getting their opportunities.
You’ve been getting decent production from your fantasy wideouts
and you have okay running backs – but you’re looking for a special
player to put you over the top each week. Well – just like you
want consistent performers in your lineup, it’s important to have
guys who are capable of blowing up at any point and changing a
game. It’s the main reason I drafted Maurice Jones-Drew, and why
so many people are fawning over Adrian Peterson. Devin Hester
has the ability to get you 6-9 fantasy points (or more, depending
on your scoring) in a heartbeat, regardless of the way the game
is playing out.
Battle, SF – Battle is one of the more underrated sleeper
WRs in all of fantasy football, and he’s got a great matchup this
week at home versus New Orleans. Arnaz is a talented athlete (he’s
the team’s emergency QB) and he’s been targeted often by Trent
Dilfer. This game could easily turn into the Giants-Niners game
last week, when Battle went for 6/57/1 – his second game in a
row with a TD. This week, he could make it three in a row.
Lee, GB – Lee is now the Packers’ starting TE with Bubba Franks
out with a sprained knee and Favre loves to target the big guys
in the red zone. I recommended taking a shot on him during Week
3 as a backup TE, but his value goes way up with Franks slated
to miss abut 3-4 weeks. Lee makes a really nice start against
Denver, a team that yields the most points to fantasy TEs in football
(see Heath Miller last week). Now’s the time to grab Lee and play
him with confidence.
Scouring The Barrel
WR Amani Toomer, NYG – Since the peak of his career in
2002, Toomer’s yardage totals have steadily declined –
but since he hit rock bottom as a fantasy receiver in 2004 (51/747/0),
his per game fantasy totals have rebounded. In 2005, he finished
a full season with (60/684/7) and last year during a season cut
in half by injuries, he posted (32/360/3). Sunday, the 33-year-old
Toomer caught 3 balls for 37 yards and a TD – just enough
for a decent fantasy game. If Plaxico’s TD totals start
to fade off, Amani could be the one picking them up. Don’t
waste a roster spot on him unless you’re really struggling,
but he’s one of the better under-the-radar veterans that’s
often targeted in the red zone and could be worth a flier in TD-only
Ginn, Jr., MIA – Ginn is a special player, I’m just not sure
if he’s ready for the big stage and the size of NFL defenders
just yet. Dolphins fans booed Cam Cameron heartily when he addressed
them at a press conference following Ginn’s selection in the 2007
draft, when Cameron famously spoke to the quality of Ginn’s family.
The Miami faithful balked at the Fins War Room’s decision to pass
on Brady Quinn and Ginn has yet to squelch the squawking among
fans – Ted’s “family” has yet to score an NFL TD and he’s yet
to make a real impact on the games. But all this could change
with Chris Chambers in San Diego. Ginn started Sunday and caught
three passes for 37 yards, although he was targeted six times.
That really puts the onus on Cleo Lemon. If Lemon starts finding
Ginn when the young receiver’s open, he could be a nice #3 or
WR Joey Galloway, TB – Joey missed a great opportunity
to post big numbers against the Lions. But then again, he is Joey
Stallworth, NE – What did I tell you? At this rate, he’ll
be good for about a TD catch per week.
Miller, PIT – Ka-BOOM! Arguably my best call of the season.
Folks that listened to my recommendation and snagged Miller following
his bye week were treated to 5/50/2 out of a roster slot that’s
only two or three guys in the league plug those kind of numbers
into. If you listened – then congratulations are in order.
Henry, CIN – It’s time to get him. When he comes back following
next week, he’ll be gone off most wires, and the Bengals will
immediately insert him into the rotation to shake things up on
WR Kevin Walter, HOU – Walter had another solid game –
6/97/1 and continues to be a good #3 WR until Andre Johnson comes
back. And given the way the Texans are moving the football through
the air, it’s conceivable he stays a valuable option.
TE Chris Baker, NYJ – Sat out Sunday’s game with
a back injury.
Moore & David
Patten, NO – Just 3/39/0 between them during Sunday’s win
over the Falcons. And the much-maligned Devery Henderson caught
a TD, so their value takes a hit.
Off The Top
Smith, SF – While rookie LB Patrick Willis goes nuts on opposing
running backs and attracts all the attention, Smith – his fellow
ILB – is quietly racking up some decent totals of his own. He’s
a smart player, disciplined and fundamentally sound, and he’s
a textbook hitter who finishes his tackles. This week, the 49ers
face off against a Saints team that yields the sixth-most IDP
points to opposing LBs, and I can guarantee that Smith’s out there
in most leagues.
Winfield, MIN – The 9-year-veteran’s IDP numbers have gotten
better each year since 2002, and this year they’re really ballooning.
And he’s still available in one of my leagues for whatever reason.
I guess that sometimes it’s just difficult to cut bait on a promising
young player who’s struggling – something I’m currently encountering
with Chris Hope – to make room for an aging veteran who’s numbers
have continually risen. Wait – what the hell am I talking about?
I’m picking up Winfield and dropping Hope. I just convinced myself.
McGee, BUF – When all the good LBs are gone, you have to look
at DB matchups for consistency in tackling totals and the occasional
pick that usually makes your IDP stat line. The Buffalo secondary
has the best matchup of any crew in football this week except
the Steelers. Troy Polamalu’s most likely gone in most formats
and although Ike Taylor’s been scoring, he only has quality IDP
starts in three of his six games. They’re definitely worth consideration
this week if they’re available, but I like what I’ve seen from
McGee in Buffalo. There’s nobody else in the secondary that’s
healthy and used to playing tough divisional games like McGee
is, and regardless of who gets the call for the Jets – Clemens
or Pennington – McGee should post solid numbers.
DL Trent Cole, PHI – The guy can play – and this
week he takes aim at the Vikings, who in weeks 2-4 gave up the
most points to fantasy DLs of anybody except the Lions.
DB Leigh Bodden, CLE – He’s yet another example of
a quality IDP defender who’s got a great matchup this week.
I’ve recommended Bodden before, and he didn’t capitalize
on my confidence. Against the Rams – who give up the fifth-most
points to fantasy DBs – and an iffy Bulger, I gotta like
LB Paris Lenon, DET – I’ve discussed Lenon before,
but I don’t think too many people have listened. This week
he should find plenty of points out there against the Bears, who
give up the second most points (the Chargers give up the most)
to fantasy LBs.
Scouring The Barrel
Tuck, NYG – Assuming Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora are
gone in your IDP league, taking Tuck could be a good move. While
he heads to London to face a Miami team that somehow allows the
fewest fantasy points in football to opposing DL, Tuck shouldn’t
last too much longer on the wire. And I think that inexplicable
trend in Miami is about to change, considering the way the Giants
DLs are playing and how low morale in Miami is right about now.
DB Marcus Trufant, SEA – He’s having a great year
and putting up consistent fantasy numbers for the first time since
’04, but Marcus is on a bye this week. He returns Week 9
against the Browns and makes a great DB play in any IDP format.
LB Angelo Crowell, BUF – This steady IDP performer finished
with 9 total tackles but no extra stuff. Still, that type of consistency
in tackle numbers is usually good enough to warrant success in
most IDP leagues – the other stuff comes when it comes.
DB Sean Taylor, WAS – Another solid call, my recommendation
of Taylor yielded fruitful results – 5 total tackles, an
INT and a PD.
DB DeAngelo Hall, ATL – Hall didn’t bust out for
two straight weeks like I had thought, but he did get 6 tackles
en route to a pedestrian IDP day.
LB Omar Gaither, PHI – 7 tackles and a PD – good enough
for the purpose he serves in most fantasy lineups.
Webster, DEN – D.J. Williams was the Denver LB who stole the
show on Sunday night, as Webster only managed 5 total tackles.
DL Jovan Haye, TB – My IDP sleeper of the week finished
with 4 tackles and a sack – not bad..